Being rich.


Karl Gabbey, retired teacher and frequent contributor (right).

-Karl Gabbey

Dear Doubters,
You are citizens of the “richest country on Earth”:
As a “First World country,” we act like a Third World country in a number of crucial ways —

1. The U.S. ranks 15th in dealing with debt insolvency according to the Doing Business rankings.
2. The U.S. is 25th among 43 developing countries for the best place to be a mother, according to Save The Children.
3. America is ranked 39th in income inequality according to the CIA World Factbook.
4. Need a Hepatitis B vaccination? The U.S. is ranked 89th in percentage of children who have been vaccinated according to the World Health Organization.
5. The U.S. is only 47th in infant survival? According to the CIA World Factbook.
6. Want to live a long life? Don’t live in the U.S., which is 50th in life expectancy according to the CIA World Factbook.
7. How much do the above facts relate to Reagan’s and Bush Nr. 2’s tax cuts for the “job creators” (trickle down theory) and deliberate, conservative social policies? Perhaps, countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and most of Europe just simply do things better than “THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH.” At least the Dutch, Germans, Scandinavians, etc. know where their taxes are being spent…

Jeff McDaniel’s character, “Will McAvoy,” the protagonist, in the HBO Series “Newsroom,” went on the attack when a “student” mentioned the subject of “AMERICA, THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD,” at a “college forum” on one of the shows. Although the show is fiction, the numbers that McDaniel’s character recites are fact:

“We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force and number four in exports. WE LEAD THE WORLD IN ONLY THREE CATEGORIES: (1) Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, (2) number of adults who believe angels are real and (3) defense spending where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of which are allies. Now none of this is the fault of a 20 year-old college student but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst period, generation, period, ever, period. So when you ask what makes us the ”GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD,” I don’t know what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you’re talking about…”

How can the things above be corrected in the “richest country on Earth? We’re told endlessly by our politicians, corporate types, our media, and many middle income citizens when it suits them that we are a “can do country.” We Americans, they say, are inventive, entrepreneurial, restless, and daring risk takers. Some even suggest that we’re God’s gift to humanity — “God Bless America!”

When the subjects of single-payer health insurance, free college tuition, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, decent public schools for all children in America, etc. etc. etc. arise in discussions, suddenly, we are no longer a “can do country.” Instead, we’re told by the same politicians, corporate types, the media, and aped by too many middle income citizens that we’re “too poor,” “overtaxed,” or “broke” and fed every negative excuse in the book to keep our country, clearly the wealthiest on Earth, from enacting substantive changes in our social contract that would improve the lives of all Americans. God bless what? …An empty suit? “Maybe we, as middle income people in the “richest country on Earth,” can start the argument with the positive attitude that, yes, we are a “can do” nation. Maybe, just maybe, single-payer health insurance, free college tuition, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, decent public schools for all children in America, etc. etc. etc. may become realities.

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